The key thing is to endure
It was July and the roses were unfurling at the front door. My grandparents were visiting our home in the country for the last time together. We had no idea of this, and I happily sat out in the heat in a white, wide-brimmed sunhat with my grandfather. Later, sitting inside, we were all discussing an interview that I had been called to, discussing teaching, finding a job, starting a career. In the middle of the chatter of six women, Tommy, my grandfather would smile and this day he listened quietly, waited and then said something in a lull, something that I tucked away in my heart when I heard it, and something that has stayed with me all through this rough year of moving to a new town and teaching hordes of teenagers. He said “the key thing is to endure.”
I am enabled to endure difficult circumstances when I consciously enjoy the company of Jesus
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1, 2 NKJV
The key thing is to endure. Jesus endured. Jesus endured the ultimate test of pain and difficulty, the cross. My example of endurance to emulate is found in Jesus:
How did Jesus endure?
“Jesus… for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross…“
Jesus endured the cross by looking ahead to the joy that was set before Him.
How am I to endure?
“Let us run with endurance… looking unto Jesus”
I am enabled to endure by looking to Jesus.
How is it that I am enabled to endure by looking to Jesus?
Psalm 16:11 tells me that in the presence of Jesus I will find fullness of joy.
Nehemiah 8:10 tells me that the joy of the Lord is my strength.
Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I want to have the strength to endure.
It is Christ who gives me the strength I need to endure.
The strength that He gives me is His joy.
So to be strengthened to endure, I must be filled with the joy of the Lord.
To be filled with the joy of the Lord, I must be in His presence;
I must sit in His company, aware of His closeness to me. This will fill me with joy.
In the presence of the Lord I find joy. The joy of the Lord is my strength. When I am strong in the joy of the Lord, I am strong enough to endure whatever is in front of me.
Now I can be sure that Jesus is present with me at all times and in every circumstance because
“He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””(Hebrews 13:5 NKJV)
And also because “He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”” (Exodus 33:14 NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews encourages me as a believer to be diligent to enter His rest. (Hebrews 4:11 NKJV).
Where can my spirit find true rest? only in the Presence of the Lord.
In the old testament when God said “My Presence will go with you,”
He promised that the gift of rest would accompany the gift of His Presence.
In the new testament Jesus said “come to me… and you will find rest for your souls.”
So you see, “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands.” Hebrews 4:1 NLT
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
“So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God… they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. ” Hebrews 4: 2, 3, 6 NLT
I must be obedient to believe the words of Jesus, I must be diligent to act on them and come to Him.
I must be diligent to cherish and appreciate this miracle of the nearness of a holy God to me.
I must always acknowledge the astonishing fact that the almighty Creator chooses to be near me and remain with me forever.
The safety, the security of this knowledge allows my soul to be at peace.
“my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me”
Psalm 16:9,10 NIV
So as I come to Him and stay walking with Him, in obedience, I will enter His place of rest which He has prepared “since he made the world… there for people to enter”… and “still waiting for the people of God” Hebrews 4:3, 6, 9 NLT
Thinking about my own experience, I become tired and unwilling to endure when I have been deprived of rest. I become encouraged and willing to keep going when I have been given sufficient time to rest. So it follows that my mind and heart can endure when my mind and heart are at rest.
My spirit is enabled to endure when I live in the restfulness of His Presence.
When my spirit remains in a place of rest, I can never become worn out.
When my spirit is being continually filled with joy, I can never become weak, because His joy is my strength.
When my heart is resting in Jesus, full of the joy of knowing Him, I will always be strong to endure.
As I live in the conscious company of Jesus, as I remember that He is always near me, as I tell Him my heart’s every thought, as I read His words and learn His ways and hear His voice, I will find rest so I will not be weary and I will find joy so I will not be discouraged.
(Consider Him who endured… lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls Hebrews 12:3 NKJV)
In this place of rest and joy I will know His strength, and in this strength I will always be able to endure.
Instead of restlessness, always restfulness.
Instead of always looking for joy, always knowing fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.
In rest and joy enabled to endure.
Finally, let’s look back at Psalm 16: 8-11 NIV
Looking unto Jesus
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
(NKJV I have set the Lord always before me,
AMP I have set the Lord continually before me)
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
(NKJV My flesh also will rest in hope,
AMP my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety)
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
(“I will never leave you nor forsake you” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV)
(“My Presence will go with you” Exodus 33:14 NKJV)
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
So, you see, the effects of the presence of God on my life are twofold. First, in the presence of God I will find rest for my soul. And in the presence of God I will find deep joy, a joy that strengthens my soul and enables me to endure.